It’s an Incredible Deal – Part II

Back in September last year, I wrote about the pricing of Microsoft Office 2013. Unlike Paul Thurott , I failed to see how it was “An Incredible Deal”. For my use, the change to a subscription model would increase my cost of ownership over a 6 year period by almost 5 times.

Subsequent to that, Microsoft announced an offer to buy a copy of Office Home and Student 2010, and get a copy of Office Home and Student 2013 when it became available, for free. Well, I thought, that sounded pretty good. A little further investigation rather took the icing off the cake. The 2010 version of Home and Student’s licensed for use on 3 PCs, while the 2013 version is only licensed for use on one. Nevertheless, I thought that the offer remained sufficiently attractive to warrant investing in a copy of Home and Student 2010. I could install Office 2013 on my tablet, and carry on with 2010 on our other two PCs.

So I   purchased a copy of Office Home and Student 2010 and registered for the offer. And yesterday, I received an email from Microsoft telling me that the new Office was available and that I could redeem my offer.

I clicked on the link in the email and arrived at the Microsoft web page setup for the offer. Clicking on the “Redeem now” button, brought up a page where, amongst other things , I was asked to enter the Product key of my existing version of Office and select the country/region where I would be using the version of Office 2013. Note that I have an English language version of Office 2010, and I would be using Office 2013 here in the Netherlands.

I filled in all the fields, clicked the “Submit” button and promptly got an error 012913 -very helpful, not. Noticing that the web page was set to English (US) , I changed it to English (International), and tried again. Nope, same error.

With a sinking heart l changed the web page to Nederlands and repeated the process yet again. This time I got further – I was asked whether I wanted the subscription version of Office 2013 or the single license version. However, note that I am now looking at a page written in Dutch. The clear implication is that if I download the single license version I will end up with the Dutch version of Office.

Now, this might not be a problem providing I can change the display language and the proofing tools to UK English. This blog post from Julian Parish in the Office team seems to suggest that the language packs are available, but that, as a consumer, I have to buy them. That’s not really what I wanted to hear. It is particularly galling when you realise that the display and help languages of Windows 8 can be changed or added to for free.

One other little thing. Microsoft has also changed the licensing terms of the downloadable software. Unlike earlier versions, it can no longer be uninstalled from one PC and transferred to another. Now, once installed on a PC, that’s it – it can never be transferred. And if your PC breaks, and you get a new motherboard, for example, then tough, Office will stop working, and you will need to buy a new license.

I can’t say that I’m delighted with these changes, but I fear it’s the shape of things to come from Microsoft. Next up, I fear that Windows 9 will switch to a subscription model as well.

Update: Well, I decided that I’d see what would happen if I went one step further on the Dutch web site, and selected the downloadable Office Home and Student version. Thankfully, the next page gave me the opportunity to confirm that my country was the Netherlands, but also gave me the option of choosing English. I rather think that should have been made clearer earlier in the process…

So now I’m in the process of downloading and installing what I hope will be an English language version of Office. Oh gawd, now I’ve got a perky little welcome video playing.

Update 2: I see that Paul Thurrott is still convinced that the subscription model is “an incredible deal”. He writes:

Office 365 Home Premium, at just $99.99 a year, with five easily distributed and changed PC/device installs of Office 2013 Professional, is obviously the way to go for most people.

I’m clearly not most people. It’s way too expensive and a very bad way to go for me. However, I do agree that the fact that Microsoft has apparently removed the right to transfer licenses between machines is a slap in the face from the customer’s point of view.

Update 3: Peter Bright, writing in Ars Technica, calls a spade a spade:

If you buy a perpetual retail license for Office 2013, it will be locked to the computer you first install it on, forever. Buy a new PC and you won’t be allowed to install your existing copy of Office on it, even if you wipe the disk of the old PC. You’ll have to splurge for a new one.

This is a change in policy from Office 2010. Office 2010 permitted a single transition from one PC to a new one. It’s not, however, an entirely new policy: OEM pre-installed versions of Office (and Windows) are similarly tied to their (OEM) hardware and can’t migrate. Adam Turner at The Age first pressed Microsoft for clarification over what its “single PC” constraint actually meant, and noted the newly aligned OEM and retail licenses.

It’s difficult to see the wisdom in this change. It’s not a big change, but it’s not a nice one, either.

Update 6th March 2013: Following protest, it appears as though Microsoft has changed its mind. Excellent news.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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2 Responses to It’s an Incredible Deal – Part II

  1. Al Feersum says:

    Microsoft are certainly up to something with regard to their licensing models. One theory is that they feel that they’re missing out on the mobile computing market – but that doesn’t make sense. A license is a license, whether you’re running it on a tablet or a PC. But yes, that license transfer for downloaded ‘ware is a bit of a pain.

    This year, the cost of MSDN subcriptions under my company’s EA has more than doubled – putting the price of MSDN Premium higher than the previous MSDN Ultimate subscription charge – and there are some development tools that aren’t available to Premium subscribers.

    Also, ‘doze 8 seems to be making huge inroads into the market – in the UK, I can’t find a PC for sale in the major chains that hasn’t got 8 installed – I was looking for a laptop for my grandson for a Christmas present, and wanted to get him a ‘doze 7 machine because it’s got a familiar interface, and isn’t that far removed from what he’s using at school (probably XP or Vista) – and I couldn’t get one. Only 8 is available, so if you wanted a 7 PC, tough luck.

    I suspect that MS are clawing in as much money as they can through license fees so that they can either a) fund their next major acquisition, b) fund their next major product release (‘doze 9? – doubt it) or c) offset the loss that they’re making on the Surface and the Nokia deal so that they can increase their market share by undercutting their rivals for similar products.

  2. Pingback: Disingenuous, Contemptible, or Both? | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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